Urgent need for 1,000 2-person firefighter teams. Our nation’s fire service has been called upon to send 1,000 two-person firefighter teams to help the citizens of the Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama affected by Hurricane Katrina.
FEMA has asked the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the Metro Section of the IAFC/NFPA to get this request for assistance from FEMA to the fire service to help FEMA respond to disaster recovery efforts. The International Association of Fire Fighters is supporting this effort to inform firefighters in response to FEMA’s request.
Due to FEMA/DHS policies and requirements, the initial teams will be limited to career firefighters and must be selected and approved by the chief of the department. Teams will need to be physically fit and capable of working in very austere conditions for an extended period of time – sleeping on the ground, eating MRE’s. They will need to pack carry-on baggage only – backpacks are recommended. Teams will be working for at least a 30-day period.
The Volunteer & Combination Officers Section (VCOS) of the IAFC is working with FEMA to provide the same opportunities to volunteer firefighters in this and in future disaster situations. “While we understand why this decision was necessary due to the absolute urgency of the situation and the need to get these teams in place as soon as possible, it is essential that FEMA/DHS use the volunteer fire service and the IAFC and VCOS are working to see that volunteer firefighters are included in this important effort,” said Chief Bill Killen, president of the IAFC.
“I know our nation’s fire chiefs will answer this call, just as we know that the fire chiefs of these affected states would help the citizens of our towns in a moment of crisis. Our prayers are with the thousands of citizens who are suffering and especially for those responders who are working to alleviate the destruction, pain and suffering,” said Chief Killen.
Individual team members will need to register through the National Emergency Training Center’s normal course registration process. FEMA will accept the fire chief’s certification on the application forms as the equivalent to a federal background check on the individual team members. Jurisdictions will be reimbursed for the teams and teams will be provided brief initial training in Atlanta as Community Relations Response Teams to prepare them to assist the citizens in the disaster area.
For details, please read the message below from the Chief R. David Paulison, US Fire Administrator.